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Tapping into new markets: ICC helps your company grow beyond borders

  • 4 December 2023

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Is your business looking to grow and conquer foreign markets? The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) can support you each step of the way.

With a long history, thorough knowledge and unmatched expertise in international trade processes, our network of national committees and chambers of commerce in 170 countries, ICC is the partner of choice to support your quest for new markets opportunities.

Read through our guide to the 10 Key Steps of your internationalisation journey and familiarise yourself with the ICC rules, tools and services that are used every day in millions of international business transactions worldwide.

How do I get started?

Basics of trade

Trading goods and services across borders comes with its own set of rules and practices. Whether you are importing or exporting products – or looking to establish a commercial presence in a foreign market – mastering key trade processes will give you a lasting competitive edge. From customs requirements to contractual arrangements, financing trade and organising logistics, assess and sharpen your export-import readiness.

Trade opportunities

The next step in your trade journey is to explore commercial opportunities internationally. This will involves conducting initial market research to identify potential customers or suppliers in foreign markets. Detect where demand for your goods and services will come from, classify your product for customs purposes, check for any benefits from regional trade agreements and explore available distribution methods.

Showcase your products

Out of sight, out of mind. To secure visibility in foreign markets, successful exporters frequently showcase their products trade fairs, exhibitions and roadshows with potential customers and distributors. This is a powerful means to build demand for your products and establish relationships with potential customers. Help is at hand with the ATA Carnet, the Passport for Goods, that permits duty-free and tax-free temporary import for goods for up to one year.

Identify and leverage your intellectual property (IP) assets 

As you take your business abroad, you may want to pay special attention to your intellectual property asset. International trade offers both opportunities to leverage your IP assets (patents, copyright, trademarks) and grow your business, as well as specific risks that need to be properly measured and addressed. When operating internationally, IP is an important consideration in respect of your providers, licensors, customers and competitors. 

How do I draft my contract?

Congratulations, you have identified a viable commercial opportunity, and you are now looking to transact with a customer or a supplier in a foreign market. The next step is to start contract negotiations and include the right clauses and terms for a successful business relationship. This work will be essential to your long-term success, whether you are selling goods to a foreign customer, hiring a commercial agent, entering into a franchising agreement, or choosing a distributor.

Incoterms® rules

A key decision to make when drafting your international sale contracts will be the selection of the right Incoterms® rule, which define the responsibilities of buyers and sellers in a transaction. Deciding which of the 11 Incoterms® 2020 rules to include is not always easy for the contracting parties, whether they are prospective exporters/ importers or experienced traders.

How do I execute my transaction?

Finance your import/export

When trading goods and services, financing and payment modalities will play a major role to align your working capital needs with your international growth strategy. Ensuring proper financing and managing both payment and supplier risk may require the support of banks and other specialised third parties. Trade finance can provide useful financial instruments and products to facilitate international trade and reconcile your needs with those of your business partner.

Export documents

When exporting your goods, the customs authorities from the importing country will expect a few documents from you, notably your export invoice, import or export declarations if the good were not manufactured by the exporter, packing list, signed bill of lading or airway bill, and a statement of origin. Very frequently, you or your company’s agent will be asked to present a Certificate of Origin.

Navigate laws and regulations

Much like in domestic trade, international transactions must comply with their own set of rules. As you move products and services from one market to another you will first have to consider international sources of law and regulation, consisting of international conventions and customary practices that form binding rules for those involved in international trade. You will also have to consider regional or national rules, consisting of laws and regulations that govern the entry and circulation of goods and services, as well as business practices in a specific market.

How do I prevent and solve potential disputes?

Businesses want to do what they are good at: doing business. But things do not always go according to plan. In the event you end up in a conflict with your customers, suppliers or business partners, resolving your disputes in a timely and cost-effective manner is essential to save your long-term commercial relationships and keep focusing on the growth of your business. Preventing and solving disputes has been at the forefront of ICC’s mission for over 100 years.

Where is your company based?

Get in touch with your local chamber of commerce. The ICC World Chambers Federation brings together the world’s most dynamic chambers of commerce.